Showsight Presents The Keeshond

KEESHOND HOW TO EXAMINE A COATED BREED FOR CORRECT STRUCTURE THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN STRUCTURE AND MOVEMENT IN THE

BY DEBBIE LYNCH

T his article discusses the rela- tionship between structure and movement in the Kees- hond. However, it is appli- cable to many breeds and covers how to examine coated breeds with your hands

The handler will attempt to keep them from doing this. You should observe characteristics that are typical of arctic dogs. Medium, neat ears, set up on the head and not to the side, are required, as in a cold environment large ears would freeze. Dark, almond-shaped eyes are typical, so they can squint down in the bright snow. A dark muzzle and the spectacles, which are the line drawn from the corner of the eye to the base of the ear, complete the picture. The dog should appear alert, friendly, and curious. FRONT: EXAMINING THE SHOULDERS AND CHEST Balance is the first requirement. When you look at the dog in profile, the dog should appear balanced in three parts; front, mid- dle, and rear. These should blend smoothly and be in equal pro- portion. When you go over the dog, examine the shoulders. Place your right hand on the withers and follow that down to the point of shoulder. You should feel a moderate layback of shoulder. Then, place your left hand at the point of shoulder and move it toward the point of the opposite shoulder. In between these points, you will find the prosternum that is even with the points of shoulder. If the prosternum is slightly higher than the point of the shoul- der, this can mean the shoulder is steep and lacks angulation. Unless the dog also has very little rear angulation, the dog will not be balanced. For the health and performance of the dog, a minimum of angulation should be present, which will bring the prosternum even with the points of the shoulder. From the point of shoulder, follow down the upper arm to the elbow. The angle of the shoulder and the upper arm should form a “V” of approximately equal lengths. If the upper arm is short, the elbow will finish in front of the withers. A short, steep upper arm will give the dog a straight front and the dog will not be able to extend his front leg very far, giving him a limited front stride. Go back to the withers and feel the distance between the shoul- der blades. This is sometimes one or two fingers. If it is more, the dog may move wide in front and wing or paddle, depending on his other physical characteristics. BODY AND LOIN Keeshonden should slope slightly from the withers to the tail. Some call this being “built uphill.” A dog that is built “downhill” will slope downward from tail to the withers. This will produce a dog that is heavy in front and moves with the head low. The standard says, “The body should be compact with a short, straight

for correct structure. Basic anatomical references are used. If you are a judge, or a student of dogs and breeding, you will be familiar with them. If not, please refer to texts like Rachel Page Elliot’s Dog Steps , McDowell Lyons’ The Dog in Action , or Ed and Pat Gilbert’s Encyclopedia of K-9 Terminology for details and illustrations. STRUCTURE AND MOVEMENT The rules regarding structure and movement dictate that form follows function. This means that the structure of a dog will con- trol, to a great degree, how that dog (or any animal) will move. So, why do we qualify this by saying to a great degree? This is because movement is affected not only by the way a dog is built but also by how he is conditioned and how he feels at that given moment. Think about yourself. If you played an intense game of tennis the day before, you may be stiff when you get up and not move so sprightly when you jog. The same is true for your dog. If you are evaluating an individual dog for the purposes of your breeding program, you will want to the see the dog move on more than one occasion. That being said, what we are looking for in the Keeshond is structure that will produce the movement described in the stan- dard, this being: “They should move cleanly and briskly; the move- ment should be straight and sharp with reach and drive between slight and moderate.” Also, “Dogs should move boldly and keep tails curled over the back.” The movement is described as a “dis- tinctive gait… unique to the breed” HEAD AND EXPRESSION The late Dick Beauchamp, in his book, Solving the Mysteries of Breed Type , said that head and expression are one of the prin- ciple keys to breed type. Head type in the Keeshond would require an article all by itself. For this article, we will summarize what you should expect to observe when you first approach a Kees- hond. Keeshonden are lively, curious dogs and when they are first approached by a stranger they will want to greet you. Puppies are especially so, and will want to say hello and lick your face.

230 | SHOWSIGHT MAGAZINE, FEBRUARY 2022

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